WRC Weekly COVID-19 Update
We’re sharing our weekly update to keep WRC employees, residents, and families informed of changing regulations and policies at the national and state level, as well as within the WRC continuum. Thank you to all WRC essential workers!
- Today is National Older Adults Mental Health Awareness Day! For tips on helping to combat social isolation for seniors during the COVID-19 crisis, please visit https://www.mhanational.org/may-older-americans-month-too
- Universal Masking. The Pennsylvania Department of Health released further guidelines on personal protective equipment (PPE), and suggests that all individuals should continue to wear homemade masks when they leave their home. Everyone who enters a healthcare facility must wear a mask, but N-95 masks will be reserved in the event that a facility has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Testing and elective surgeries. Many local hospitals are beginning to open for elective surgery. Patients will be tested for COVID-19 prior to their surgery to ensure their safety, and the safety of the healthcare workers. In many cases, rapid 45-minute tests are becoming available within hospitals settings, and 24 hour tests are available at drive-through locations.
- Free decontamination of N95 masks. Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of a program to provide free N95 respirator decontamination to healthcare facilities, first responders, and other eligible organizations that may be experiencing a shortage of the respirators due to limited availability through normal procurement channels.
- Return to work criteria. Guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health have been updated to reflect both test-based and time-based strategies for healthcare workers returning to work after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test. New guidelines suggest that non-test-based strategies extend the duration of exclusion from work to at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
- Trump’s outlines initiatives to protect America’s seniors. Trump announced that he will create a commission focused on safety in the nursing homes composed of industry experts, patient advocates, and state and local officials. The groups will meet throughout May and issue recommendations for steps to protect seniors.
- Contact Tracing and potential exposures. WRC has trained a team to do contact tracing in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case. Currently, close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more from the period 48 hours before symptom onset to the time at which the patient went into isolation.
- Leading Age Relief Package Proposal. LeadingAge is lobbying congress to include Aging Services Relief in the next COVID-19 relief package. They’re asking congress to consider $2.2 billion for rent and staffing supports, service coordinators, telehealth capability, and other assistance for the more than 2 million older adults served by federally-assisted housing communities financed by HUD, the Rural Housing Service, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, as well as priority access to PPE and testing, without which our residents, clients, and staff continue to be at significant and avoidable risk.
- Department of Aging receives new funding. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) has been awarded $3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for community living to support efforts to mitigate and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds from this grant will enable the PA Link to support the operations and capacity of the aging and disability network, increase coordination of efforts and provide critical access to services for those populations most at risk from COVID-19.
- Nursing Home visitation still restricted during Gov. Wolf’s “yellow” phase. Although many counties will begin to ease restrictions for stay-at-home orders starting on May 8th, residents of nursing and personal care homes will still remain under stay-at-home orders for the safety and protection of the residents.